HP, 3M Working on 'Visual Hack'-Proof PC Screens for 2016

The new screens, which can be toggled on and off, work similarly to traffic signals that are viewable only from straight on.

Hewlett-Packard and 3M are teaming up for a new security product that will prevent wandering eyes from stealing information off your laptop screen.

The two companies said Oct. 14 that they are now collaborating to integrate new 3M privacy screens into HP's notebook and laptop PCs. The new screens, which work similarly to traffic signals that are viewable only from straight on, are expected to be ready for market sometime next year.

HP and 3M are making a newly coined issue, "visual hacking," the enemy in this initiative.

"With more and more PCs being used in public places, visual hacking–the act of collecting confidential information by looking at someone else's screen–is a paramount security risk," Alex Cho, HP's vice president and general manager of commercial PCs, told eWEEK. "All a 'visual hacker' has to do is see a key subject line, an infographic or other piece of information in order for private information to be marginalized.

"This new project is designed to not only protect the privacy of the individual user, but also provides security for valuable company assets."

In a recent Ponemon Institute survey, HP said, nearly 90 percent of attempts to steal sensitive business information using only visual means were successful. Compromised information included contact lists, customer information, corporate financials, and employee access and login credentials, the study reported.

The planned commercialized product from the HP and 3M relationship integrates the privacy function directly into the notebook display, creating an on demand electronic privacy solution. Users will be able to toggle the new display technology on and off, Cho said.

Cho said that the optional screen function will be integrated into HP notebooks and laptops beginning in 2016.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...